European Parliament votes to end geo-blocking of internet content

Labour MEP Miriam Dalli says European citizens should not be prevented from buying and selling goods and services on online marketplaces 

The European Parliament voted against geo-blocking consumers’ online access to goods and services on the basis of their IP address, postal address or the country of issue of credit cards.

MEPs also urged Europe to remove barriers to SMEs and to seize the opportunities opened up by new technologies, such as Big Data, cloud computing and the Internet of Things.

The EP’s recommendations to boost the digital single market were approved by 551 to 88, with 39 abstentions.

Labour MEP Miriam Dalli, as a member of the Industry Committee, put forward a number of amendments to the report – including on the need to end geo-blocking, which she described as “an unjust practice”.

“Existent barriers online mean that our citizens are missing out on buying the goods and services they want and self-employed people and start-ups are unable to tap into the wider market,” Dalli said after the vote. “Entrepreneurs from all member states need to be provided with the possibility to sell their products on Europe’s online marketplaces. Practices that forbid our entrepreneurs from registering and selling on specific online marketplaces should not be allowed.”

Meanwhile in a submission to the European Parliament, Dalli stated that digital technologies are offering individuals the opportunity to develop entrepreneurial ideas and business models which are not being fully exploited.

She called on the European Commission to take action on very important issues such as financing possibilities online for entrepreneurs.

"Once again I call upon the Commission, to ensure that crowd funding can become a reality. This approach together with more initiatives to boost entrepreneurship will help change our culture on what is success whilst promoting an entrepreneurial and innovation culture," she added.

“In today's age digital technologies are offering a new world of opportunities. They can expand our economy and help small and medium-sized companies tap into a potential customer base of 500 million customers within the EU alone. "We need to utilise the full potential of this opportunity. It is time to adapt really and truly to the digital age.”